What’s New Around Here?

Taking the pressure off myself to write on Bullfrogs and Bulldogs was a great decision. Now, I come back not because I feel like I have to but because I really want to. My heart and soul long to share what’s been going on and I’m finally getting back into some DIY project that I am proud to share :)

When I decided to go back to school last February, I felt like I had to completely drop everything else in my life and just dive into my Nutrition + Wellness Coaching practice. However, I wasn’t practicing what I preach. Not in the slightest bit and was quickly becoming unhappy and felt like something was missing.

One of the things I gave up was working on projects around the house. Even small ones. On our most recent trip to India, Cambodia and Thailand, I got pretty sick and had a lot of time to sit around and think about what I wanted in my life and what I felt was currently missing. What I realized was that when I’m not getting my creative juices flowing, everything else in my life feels stagnate. I’m a creative person and I need to feed that part of myself in order to feel totally fulfilled. This is something I teach my clients.

So much has changed in the (almost) three years that I have had this blog. When I started it I had just moved down to Oregon from Seattle and it was an outlet for me, a way to push myself into this new way of life. Now, things have grown, in many ways.

Our family business, a winery and vineyard called Omero Cellars is picking up steam and my hubs is busier then he ever has been. I started Savoury Soul Wellness, a Nutrition and Wellness Coaching practice and starting your own business is a lot of work. It’s totally worth it but everything, right now, is on me. I teach more throughout the community and friendships have been formed and I feel so much more apart of this community of ours but I still want to dive in deeper and that is what I am doing.

I’ll be sharing more here because that is something I’ve been missing. I’m going to dive back into projects and will be sharing more of that as well. My recipes, if you love those, are going to only be shared on my other blog and coaching website, Savoury Soul Wellness.

Something else that has changed is my style. What I leaned towards before, more of a vintage country no longer gets me excited and what I am loving is more mid-century charm. It should be interesting as I try to incorporate more of that into what we have.

Back in December we had a major water leak in our kitchen which has allowed us to remodel parts, changing our countertops, backsplash and paint color. It’s feeling more like us. I am really excited to finish incorporating a few more things and will be happy to show it to you in a few weeks (waiting on some prints to come). Then I think I am going to start on our main floor bathroom and give it a major facelift as it is still living in the 1980′s.

Oh, and I haven’t shared one of the most exciting things! We have welcomed a new family member. Please give a warm welcome to Bernard, or Bernie as I call him.

Bernard the Llama

If you read my last post from back in November we were having some major Coyote issue and so I got Bernie because they are great at protecting flocks of sheep. I’ll share that story soon.

Anyway, it feels great to be back. I’ve missed being here.

 

 

I’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling….but it’s creepin’ back

Here’s to the truth.

I love this blog.

Bullfrogs and Bulldogs has been a huge part of my life over the last two years and it means a lot to me. I love that I can go back and reflect on fun stories and projects and see so much of what I have done over the past two years on the property. The thing is, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, is that life gets busy and when you are trying to create a business from scratch, somethings fall to the wayside.

When David and I were first discussing my blog and what it could eventually be I got so much buzz from all the ideas I had. It was going to give you a first hand look at what it really is like to live in the country. What it looked like when a skinny jean and chuck wearing girl left her (somewhat) big city and found a new life in, what felt like, the middle of nowhere. Then, somewhere down the line, it became more about posting what would draw in the most viewers and less about the exciting and also difficult changes I was being faced with.

As you’ve probably noticed, this baby, my baby, has gotten away from me lately.  One part of that is the fact that I am juggling being back in school and starting my health and wellness coaching business, The Savoury Soul, and the other part is that I’m also juggling taking care of our home  and it being summer and we are always busy during the summer.

But I miss this part of my world. I did, however, get really sick and tired of feeling like I always had to work on projects. I felt myself constantly comparing myself to others instead of being grateful for what I am so fortunate to have.

This blog is a deep love of mine and I don’t want to post because I feel like I have to. I want to post because I feel a deep sense of wanting to share  my little corner of this world. I’m not sure how much or when I’ll post or what I will post about. I do know that I always will and I thank you for continuing to support Bullfrogs and Bulldogs.

Now I will leave you with some pictures of our garden. It’s completely gotten away with us this year and things that grew like weeds last year haven’t produced much of anything and vice versa. It drives us a little bonkers but I’m growing to love the guessing game. The will we or wont we get a harvest of this or that.

This year we are actually getting tons of white onion and squash of all kinds. Who wants some zucchini bread?

squash

Beans

onions

pickles

 

 

I’m on a Serious Mission: A Total Life Cleanse

be the change

The quote above is one that often runs through my mind and I find myself asking, what change do I want to be make in this world?

It’s easy for me to fall back into my old behaviors and continue doing the things I’ve always done but I want to be the change in any way I can so I’m starting with making some changes around our home. Changes that will not only impact us but also our environment and are piggy bank.

One of the biggest goals for David and I is to simplify our life and downsize. We have this dream of one day living small and sustaining as much as we can on as little as we can. I think it’s safe to say that we live in a society, or a world better yet,  where we spend a lot of money on things that we don’t necessarily need.

Our dream of downsizing, as important to us as it is, sometimes seems very far off because well, we are human and often fall back into our old ways.We continue to buy only to feel the negative affects of our purchases later. I mean, how much stuff do you really need after all?

We live in a big 1970′s, multilevel home and it’s so easy to be tempted to fill all the spaces but we both realize that it is completely unnecessary. Sure, spending helps the economy but so much of what we buy is forgotten shortly after and becomes a fixture someplace in our home.

I’ve started cleaning out every room and closet and I’m beginning the huge job of purging our home of unnecessary objects, most of which are either being sold, recycled or donated to The Goodwill.

With summer right around the corner and the opportunity to grow as much of our own food as possible, I’m realizing that now is the time to begin eliminating certain things from our life. I read an article about this family, The Johnson’s, who have a no waste policy; they have only thrown out, in one year, enough waste that could fit into a 1-liter mason jar. I’m using their blog, Zero Waste Home, to gain inspiration and ideas and apply them to our life. You should check it out too!

This could easily become a very overwhelming task and as they say, old habits die hard, so I’m taking small, baby steps to begin this big journey.

As mentioned above, I’m beginning with going through the house and getting rid of everything that doesn’t have some kind of use anymore by selling, donating, recycling,  or putting into storage because it belongs to the business. We have a lot of stuff. Who the heck has three big screen TVs, two desk top monitors, a spare queen size bed, three lamps, etc, just sitting in a corner of their basement? US!

As for waste, this is what we are doing. We recently signed up for Mint.com to gain a better idea of where the heck all our money was going to and since David and I are both very visual, being able to track it really helps. We realized that we were spending a ton of our monthly income on food. Now, I’m not exactly willing to compromise on the quality of food I buy. I try to only purchase organic foods, but to be honest, the amount we were spending was pretty ridiculous.

My plan is to start buying more things in bulk and more fruits and vegetables that are in season. As our garden starts to get bigger, I’m hoping to really be able to sustain as much off that as we can. Instead of using those plastic baggies for produce, I recently got these little gems, reusable veggie bags from Simple Ecology.

reusable bags

 

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Yes, I had to buy them but I’m setting ourselves up with the things I need to help reduce waste and spending in the future.

As for garbage,  my goal is to only throw out one kitchen garbage bag per week and this is including ALL the garbage in our home, totally seven. The rest goes into recycling or our gigantic compost seen below:

compost

It’s been about a week since I started really paying attention to what I throw out, what I compost and what I recycle. I’ve gotten rid of so much already and I already feel the weight being lifted off my chest. It was truly amazing how much we were wasting. It’s been over a week since I’ve had to throw out the garbage!

I’ll keep you all posted on the little changes I make but what are some things you do to be the change you wish to see in the world?

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Once In Awhile…

Amanda and Money

… I stay in my pj’s all day long and I don’t feel bad about it one bit.

… I can be super socially awkward and have mild panic attacks when I have to be in large groups. I do much better one-on-one but even then, if I’m getting to know you, I sometimes get awkward.

… I break out my jazz hands and dance around the house like I’m a showgirl {not THAT kind of showgirl}.

… I wish I would have done acting classes growing up, I’ve secretly wanted to act my whole life.

… I eat my meals standing at the kitchen counter.

… those meals are cold left overs.

Judy and Joey

… I talk to my sheep like they are people. Okay, I talk to all my animals like they are people and they understand what I’m asking of them.

… all I want to do is sit on the couch and walk The Real Housewives on repeat.

… I wonder what kind of mom I will be one day and if I will even get the chance.

… get obsessive compulsive and ransack our house throwing everything that hasn’t been used in awhile away.

… I when I’m not feeling well or overwhelmed I just want my mom by my side.

… I feel like there is a ghost in our home but a friendly ghost and I’m okay with that.

… I crave jelly beans but never eat them {they gross me out when I actually do}.

mom and sisters girlfriends 2

… I really miss living in Seattle {more often then not} and I wish I was closer to my family and friends.

… I wish I had more patience with myself and the things I have not done yet in life.

… I wish I was more into sports.

… {more often then not} I’m overwhelmed by how much I love my husband.

… he drives me bonkers like when he leaves his shoes in the middle of the living room floor. :) Love you hon.

… I don’t mind picking them up because I love him and he does things for me too.

…I feel totally and unbelievably blessed.

Happy Hump Day Everyone!

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How to Lay in a Hammock and Do Absolutely Nothing and Why I Stink at It.

I’m not exactly the kind of person who is ‘good’ at lying around. Even when we are having a lazing day watching movies back home I’m still always doing something whether it’s pretending to knit (I only know how to cast on and knit and pearl), perusing the Internet looking for recipes or project ideas or reading a book, I’m never only watching TV or a movie.

I have a list a mile long of things I need to prepare for and start working on when we get back home and to be honest, it’s stressing me out a wee bit. Sure, I’ve composed about a million different list over the last few weeks while e bake in the sun but now I’m ready to start taking action but can only go as far as I have since we are out of the country. Obviously.

Being fully present is something I’ve always struggled with. I’m often thinking about the past and how I can learn from it to be better in the future or I’m thinking about the future with great anticipation of the unknown and wonder what will be. I often struggle with just being present. For example, yesterday I was lying in one the hammocks without my iPad or a book and grew uneasy just being. I know, aren’t yoga teachers suppose to be all zen and past the point of being uncomfortable with stillness? That’s what I thought too. I thought once I had that little certificate moving me from bewildered student to all knowing teacher I’d reach a place of clarity and peace. Ha ha ha! It’s not called ‘working’ on yourself for nothing.

Prior to our trip I had a pretty good meditation practice going to the point where I was craving it and stopping for ten minutes of stillness here and there throughout the day. I had less anxiety, a little more clarity, and it was so much easier for me to let things roll off my shoulder. But the minute we got on that plane, it was as if all that never existed. Why the heck is that?

This trip has been significantly different from our last one to SE Asia. A lot less relaxation and more doing. That could be a significant factor in my inability to find stillness even when I’m lying in a hammock swaying back and forth. We’ve also has the added stress of not being able to eat much (more on this in another post) which, if you know me, adds a huge amount of angst because back home, even while I’m eating breakfast I’m usually planning what I’ll be eating for lunch and dinner.

So what is the lesson in all of this? Other then the fact that I need to be more prepared and bring more meal replacement bars next time. Let me just say this, the lessons I’ve been learning on this trip are ones that keep resurfacing in my life. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually learn from my past.

For starters, life usually never works out exactly how you planned and it’s so important to be able to adjust with the ebbs and flows, something I’ve had to do a lot of here. I’m a planner, hence my compulsion with list writing, and I have to be okay with leaving it at just that, a list, for now. Knowing that I will be able to start crossing things off as soon as I get back.

Another one is you can’t take things that are out of your control too seriously. Like when David’s wallet slipped out of his pocket as he was exiting a taxi cab in Bocas Town only to realize it as the cab was halfway down the street and turning a corner. Sure, in the moment it was shear panic, enough so that had me running down the street in sandals at full speed trying to catch him. But on the flip side, two weeks after it happened, it’s forced us to be much more careful with where and how we spend our money. Not too mention, we had the opportunity to get to know one of the restaurant owners, a young girl of only 24 who moved to Bocas at the age of 21, right out of college, and opened her own restaurant. Talk about ballsy and incredibly inspiring! She was someone I needed to meet as I’m about to embark on this next adventure in my life (more to come on that later!)

Last, it’s so necessary to stop, put down the electronics and watch the world go on around you. Having my iPad on this trip has been great for many reasons but it’s also allowed me to have a crutch, and excuse to zone out when what I really need is to connect and experience what is happening. That is what traveling is about after all, in my humble opinion. Not staying in your comfortable routine but been stretched beyond so you can grow and expand your wings.

We are down to our last week, leaving Taganga and moving on to Medellin, Colombia today. Who knows what is in store but I can guarantee one thing, there is definitely a lesson or two waiting in the winds.

The Scary Streets of Colombia and One Girls Mission to Find Hummus.

(Disclaimer: I’m writing this on my iPad which makes it hard to go back and change grammar and spelling errors so you may find some)

We have been on the road now since January 29th, spending the first few days of our trip in Las Vegas with David’s family then leaving on February 1st for Panama. I love traveling for so many reasons, the new cultures we emerse ourselves in, the sunny, warm climates we typically go to, the new architecture, seeing life go on even when it’s outside of our own bubble. It makes you feel small in such a big world. Maybe even a kittle more humble.

I used to also love traveling because I could eat whatever I wanted. Being Vegan and being Vegan in Cental and Southn American has been tough. Throw in a gluten and potato allergy and it’s darn near impossible not to eat either of them. When we were in SE Asia last year we had glorious foods, tons of vegetables and tofu.

I’ve been making it work but also I am realizing how incredibly lucky we are to live where we do and have the abundance of options that we do.

Also about this time I typically start to get a little homesick in general. I’m am homebody and love the convenience of where I live. I learned this while living in Taiwan a few years back. I love cooking for myself, knowing exactly where I need to go to get something, and the comfort of home. I do, however, like the uncomfortable feeling I get while traveling. It means I’m pushing myself, growing, and learning.

For example, last night. David and I are in Cartagena, Colombia. Colombia in general doesn’t exactly have the best reputation and in all honesty, we were both pretty nervous to come here. Being that our hotel offers two options for vegetarians and we had already eaten them for lunch, we needed to venture out to get dinner. We had planned to explore the city today, leaving last night to relax by the pool. But we grew hungry, or I grew hungry, so we decided to go eat someplace “out there.”

I google vegan/vegetarian options in Bocasgrande (the part of the city we are staying in) knowing that we can’t possibly be the only vegan/vegetarians who have traveled here. I found a few options, one being an Arabian restaurant with hummus. Back home, I eat hummus like it’s my job and have been craving it in a serious way so that is where we were going to go.

After writing down the address we headed down to the lobby to ask the gentleman behind the reception counter if he knew where this address was. He couldn’t recognize it and pulled up a map. He said that he knew of an Arabian place but on a different street so we headed outside, map in hand and the bellhop got us a cab. Well, at first we were going to walk but both were a little hesitant since we had no idea of the layout of this place and had read in a million different places to be careful walking at night. We also read that you should never get in a cab that wasn’t called for you.

We handed the bellhop the address which he relayed to the cab driver and neither of them knew where it was but the driver was willing to give it a go and I needed my damn hummus so somas I. After a quick stop so the driver could ask a friend for some help with this address we arrived (perfectly safe) at our destination.

As we sat there eating our falafel, hummus and lentils and rice David and I talked about how we were going to get back to the hotel. Being that the menu was in Spanish and no one there seemed to speak English, asking them to call a cab seemed out of the question, especially when all I really know how to say in Spanish is I don’t eat beef, chicken, pork, seafood or cheese, do you have vegetarian options…and hello.

Right about that time about six westerners (from Texas from what we could tell) strolled in acting like they owned the place. David and I looked at each other a little surprised. Then, a few minutes later about six more strolled in. What the heck. Besides the other three westerners staying at our hotel, we hadn’t seen (or heard) and since arriving.

We started laughing because honestly, I think we had worked ourselves up so much over the “dangers” of traveling in Colombia that seeing these twelve outspoken Texans stroll into an Arabian restaurant to celebrate a birthday, a mere fact we learned via eavesdropping, we started to feel a little foolish. Sure, if you aren’t smart there ARE dangers traveling here but we realized that we could relax our guards just a tiny bit.

We decided to walk back to the hotel, it was a beautiful night and the streets were alive with people. When we made it “safely” back to the hotel we laughed again at ourselves.

That’s the kind of uncomfortable I’m talking about. I love how traveling makes you question everything you’ve heard and learned.

I love how it challenges us. Allows us to grow as humans.t

What I Want for 2013

Well HELLO there! It’s been awhile, I know, but I have good reason for it. I needed a little break from blogging and instead of feeling like I had to crank stuff out anyway, I allowed myself to do just what I needed and took some time off. When I felt like blogging again, after the holidays, I came down with the nasty bug that is going around but I’m on the up now and feeling better, at least human again ;)

So, Christmas has come and gone and so has 2012! Can you believe that? How was your New Years Eve? Ours was great, despite the cold, and yesterday, on New Years Day, David and I had a guilt-free day of lounging around watching TV and napping. It was exactly what my body needed to start healing.

On New Year’s Eve day I reminisced with David on all the wonderful things we accomplished in 2012. It was a year full of travel and life changes. I got engaged and married to my best friend, became a stay-at-home wife, went on several amazing trips, camped, hiked, and played in the snow and accomplished one of my biggest goals, getting my 200 level yoga teacher training certificate. We opening our tasting room in Carlton and brought on two more full-time employees. Crazy how fast things can change!

Aside from all of this, I’ve grown emotionally in ways I never really thought possible for me. It’s been a year of many ups and a few downs and I know 2013 is going to be even better!

As I reflected on all of this I began to see a common theme, 2012 was all about creating the life David and I want for ourselves. One filled with love, adventure, travel, and constant emotional and physical  growth. This left me wondering, what do I want for 2013?

I decided to write down a list of things I resolve to work on and accomplish in 2013 and I want to share a few of them with you.

First and foremost,

HAPPINESS

Not that I am not a happy person because I believe I am but I still externally search for happiness instead of seek it within.  There are times when I still think to myself, ‘when I have this or that’ I’ll REALLY be happy. When my blog gets THIS many views I’ll be really happy with it. When I FINALLY fix up this room or build this, I’ll be HAPPY with my home. By now I think it is safe to say that almost everyone has heard that true happiness isn’t what you have on the outside but what you have on the inside. My goal for 2013 is to focus on what I DO have and not what I DON’T have find a place of true contentment and authenticity.

Spirituality

This is a bit more personal and I normally don’t share much on this topic but one of my goals is to get a better idea of who I am on a spiritual level. This is actually a little hard for me to explain because it’s not conventional nor necessarily something I can put into words. For me, it’s a feeling and I want to trust in that feeling more that there is something greater out there, something on a much deeper, soulful level.

Read and Write More

Writing for me is a space where I can create and dive deeper into who I am. It’s the best way I communicate and gives me that feeling of living. That feeling of overcoming writer’s block is almost euphoric when you type out exactly what you are trying to express but have had a hard time putting words to it. Reading on the other hand is your opportunity to keep learning. Learning about life and about yourself. I graduated college at the age of 26 and use to joke about being a forever student but in many ways, there is so much truth to that. We all have the opportunity to be a student in life. Books are the texts books of life and when you think about how many books are out there, you can find peace in the fact that you will, if you choose, never stop learning.

HEATH & WELLNESS

Diet - Generally, I am  a pretty darn healthy person but I feel like I can always do more. I want to start adding more fresh green juices and smoothies to my diet. I love juicing and drinking smoothies but it’s harder in the winter because you don’t exactly want something cold. I want to focus on real whole foods and cooking a majority of our meal, which we are pretty good at but still, there is always room for improvement. I also want to step outside of my comfort and try new and interesting recipes instead of always making our tried and true go to meals.

Gardening- I’ve said this for the last two summers but this year, I really want to get into gardening. I should give myself more credit though, I’ve come a long way but I want to really understand the concepts behind growing a thriving vegetable garden and I also want to work on our landscaping by adding depth, texture and contrast. It’s been sunny here the last week and all I want to do is get outside and work in the yard but it’s a little premature I think. ;)

Mentality - About a month ago I  incorporate a regular meditation into my day. Before I would really only mediate when I got super stressed out or while I was practicing yoga. For the past month I’ve started with five minutes a day. Sometimes I do guided meditation and others I just sit and watch my thoughts without placing any attachment to them. I’ve already noticed a radical shift within myself. My yoga teacher once told us what her teacher told her and that is if everyone meditated for 5 minutes a day, the shifts in our lives would be incredible and life changing. Five minutes a day, that’s all! It can be a struggle and I don’t always feel up to it but I remember how great I feel afterwards, how calm and at ease. I crave meditation now and it’s opened me up for positive changes in my life.

Get Movin’ - I’ve always been a very active person and I only hope to grow more in this area. My goal is seven days a week of something active. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown workout but whether it is a yoga or cycling class or a little walk around the property, I’m encouraging myself to always be active.

ORGANIZATION!!

It’s time to get organized. I’ve been saying this for basically ever but I think I finally found the motivation to clean out the house and only keep the essentials. Not only do I want to rid our home of clutter, we have a shop and a barn I want to get cleaned out and cleaned up. One thing that people may not realize is that when you live where you work, there really is never a day off. It’s hard to relax because you are constantly looking around thinking of all the things you should be doing. Well, I think it’s time to get a little motivation and get those things accomplished. Like our garage for example. I can’t believe I’m going to show you this but I have to because when you see the after it will really mean something to you.

Garage

Garage 2

This is only the garage! My goal is to start getting this whole place organized and more functional.

Where I want to take Bullfrogs and Bulldogs

This is something I think about all the time. Honestly, I haven’t been blogging lately because I had a major burnout,  always feeling like I had to create and produce something. I’m not good with that kind of pressure. If I feel like I have to do something then I lose my passion for it. I haven’t created one project in about a month and honestly, it’s been so nice. I love to create and build things but I have to do it at my own pace. So, my goal for 2013 is to have more variety on Bullfrogs and Bullfrogs and to show you more of ME! I like the idea of having a completely random blog full of all of the craziness of life because that is reality. Whether that is something I build or create for our home, something I cook, and health tid bit or something fun on the farm, who knows! It’s a day by day thing and I can’t wait to share more with you in 2013!

But I’d like to know, is there something YOU’D like to see more of from me?

So there is a sneak peek of what I have in store for 2013. I’m so excited for this year because I know it is going to be even bigger and better then 2012. I can’t wait to share all of life’s adventures with you!

Thank you so much for being a part of it and HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!

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Disconnet to RECONNECT

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Hello my lovely friends. I sure hope your holiday season so far is beautiful and full of light and love. Mine has been and will only get better here soon when we head back to Seattle late next week to be with my family for SIX whole days for Christmas. Part of which we will be in Chelan (Eastern Washington) celebrating with about 30 other extremely important people in my life. I’m so excited I really can’t hardly wait to hold my new little niece, Kate, in my arms and give my nephew Henry a big old hug and kiss from his “Auntie Manda”

I know that for many people this time of year can be stressful and some don’t always welcome it with open arms. There are those that find it’s a lonely month and for others it’s jammed packed with cocktail and cookie parties which can be stressful in itself!

I will admit, the month of November was a challenging one for me emotionally, mentally and ultimately, physically. I entered the season of hope and joy emotionally drained, discouraged and hopeless.  Feeling as if I had had my dreams shattered, I was left  heading down a dark and scary downward spiral of depression and I knew that wasn’t how I wanted to spend the holidays but couldn’t figure out how to get myself out of it.

Then the other day I was at Whole Foods and I as I was checking out I instinctively grabbed my phone and started thumbing through my various social media sites as I so often do  when I’m in line or in a doctors office or lying on the couch. As I was doing so it hit me. What the heck am I doing? What the heck has technology done to us? How often do you see people walking around or even worse, driving while texting or talking on their phones?

I quickly put my phone in my pocket and as the guy behind the check out counter started to ask me how my day was,  I gave him my full attention as I looked him in the eye while chit chatting with him about  completely random things. I left Whole Foods with a new profound feeling of awareness I have been missing out on for awhile now. And I felt the fog lifting.

Now, I’m not saying social media or phones are bad. I think the technological advances that have been made are pretty amazing actually but what worries me is how dependent we all have become on them. Checking in, tweeting, instagraming every activity we do. I was talking to my friend Ally one day and she mentioned that she actually hides all of her good friends on facebook because she wants to be surprised by what is going on in their lives face to face instead of hearing about things online. I couldn’t agree more.

I think part of my profound sadness, apart from some uncontrollable events in my life, was brought on by always being connected and not appreciating the things that I have by just being present and aware. It’s so easy to compare yourself with others and it’s a whole lot easier to do so now that everyone is so connected in. I’m not trying to bash facebook, etc., I’m just wondering what would happen if we all took a little more time to look people in the eyes instead of zoning out on our phones?

After that day I removed facebook and twitter from my phone. Originally I was going to try it out for one month but as the days go by, I don’t really miss it. I’ve kept Instagram because well, I think that app was really designed to be used with your phone and having the ability to take pictures wherever you are with you phone can help preserve memories. I just don’t check it as often as I did before.

I want moments in my life to be connected, even if it’s watching a movie on the couch with my husband, I want to fully be aware of everything instead of zoning out and flipping through my phone or ipad. We’ve actually set a rule in our home that no phones (other for their originally purpose), ipads, or computers are to be used after 7:30pm if we are both home.

I’ve even cut back on how much time I spend on the computer in general. It’s so easy to get caught up in perusing blogland and before you know it, you’ve looked at 20 different blogs and spend two hours on your bum. I blog when I feel like blogging now and it’s added so much freedom to my life. I check facebook every now and then and I’ve spend more time with my nose in various books and cooking in our kitchen.

I feel the grey cloud lifting and the sunshine is coming out again because I’m taking more time to appreciate the small things and the things that I have. I started a morning meditation routine and journal immediately after it because it helps me start my day off right. With a profound sense of gratitude and hope.

I think it’s important to disconnect to reconnect with reality. Let’s turn off our phones and computers and get back to face time the old fashion way. Let’s reconnect and have those meaningful human interaction again!

Thankful

I’ve grown to recognize that I am an extremely sentimental person, often finding myself walking down memory lane, thinking about the sweet innocence of my youth and how the simplest of things would make me so happy, like Satsuma oranges at Christmas time.

My mom would come home with a box full of them and I’d know that it was the start of the most magical time of year, one filled with so much hope and mystery for a child. A time of year that anything was possible because the holidays represented miracles.

These Satsumas remind me of a time in my life when things were simple and magic was real and the realities of being an adult were so far from my mind and my biggest worry was if so and so liked me. I often wonder why the generation that follows is so eager to grow up?

For most of us, today is a day to reflect on everything we are grateful and thankful for. It’s a time to gather with love ones and spend cherished time eating, drinking, and just being merry. On this Thanksgiving I am spending it alone with my hubby whom I am extremely thankful for. Our day is going to be filled with tons of vegan goodness, movies, a warm and cozy fire, our puppies and kitty at our feet and us, cuddled up on the couch, together.

If I’m honest, this past month has been one that has made me wish I could return to the days when I still believed in Santa and my biggest concerns were silly boy troubles or a budding pimple on my chin.

But today, for the whole day, I’m forgetting about the sadness and stress I’ve been feeling and I’m happy,  thankful and grateful for all that I do have.

I’m healthy, have a loving relationship with my husband, live in a beautiful area of this country on a beautiful piece of property full of nature and animals I love very much.

I always have food on my plate, clothes on my back, and a warm and cozy place to sleep and can’t even begin to understand what it would feel like to not have these things we often take for granted.

I have an incredible family who makes me feel loved and cherished and a nephew who literally makes my heart melt every time he looks my direction. Our family was blessed with a little girl this Thanksgiving morning and we are getting a  new sister-in-law next fall.

I’ve had a year full of travels and adventure, a new marriage, a new last name, and reached a huge milestone I had been working on for quite some time.

I have this blog, an outlet for creativity and of course, I have you. I’m so very thankful.

Today I feel full and grateful.

World Vegan Month – Getting a Little Personal

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November happens to be World Vegan Month and in honor of the lifestyle that D and I live, I thought I’d share with you a little bit more on how we came to be vegan. I promise that it is my intention to be kind and respectful and not get all preachy.  I’ve never personally been a fan of anyone who is mean and disheartening when speaking their truth therefore I do not intend to do so with mine.

It all started back in August of 2011 when D watched the documentary Forks over Knives which examines the claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods . I believe it got some wheels turning in D’s head that he needed to make some healthier lifestyle changes.

I have always been somewhat of a ‘health nut’ as my mom calls me. I’ve always danced around with vegetarianism and have always loved researching and reading about health and diet. Not as in ‘being on a diet’ but your overall diet. I loved juicing and smoothies, eating dark leafy greens and added quinoa to my diet way before it was a popular food staple. But I still loved a good steak and some bacon here and there and it you put any kind of artisan cheese in front of me I was done for.

But, about eight years ago I had a portion of my colon removed due to a per-cancerous polyp that was caused by a hereditary condition I have called Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer or HNPCC or Lynch Syndrome and my life has forever been changed. This is a long story in itself, one in which I plan to share in the near future but what this means is I have an 80% lifetime chance of getting colon cancer and a 30-50% of developing cancers in the uterus, ovaries, stomach, urinary tract, small bowel, and bile ducts. Yikes! That’s a bit heavy, I know, but from this experience I knew that I couldn’t take my health for granted anymore.

I was out of town when D watched Forks over Knives but when I got home he mentioned to me that he would like to do a little experiment and remove meat and dairy from his diet for a month and see how he feels. After a summer of eating lots of meat from our smoker, I thought that this sounded like an incredible idea. If anything, at the time, I thought it would be a great way to detox my body. People who have a high chance of getting colon cancer really shouldn’t eat a lot of meat because of how long it actually sits in your colon (that’s for another day). So, D and I began to eliminate all meat and dairy from out diet and right away we felt amazing. We had more energy, our skin cleared up (I’ve suffered from adult acne most of my twenties), D lost over 40 pounds, and I’ve maintained my weight without vigorous exercise for over a year.

A lot of people ask us if we miss meat and the answer is no. What we do miss are the social aspects and convenience that go along with eating whatever you want.  Truth be told, D and I don’t feel deprived or miss foods we use to eat because there are so many incredible options and resources out there for us to cook amazing meals.  It may take a little extra planning but it’s totally worth it to know that we are doing ourselves, the environment and those beautiful animals a huge service by being kinder and healthier.

That leads me to the other reason why we are vegan; those beautiful, sweet, helpless animals and our incredible earth.

I’ve always been a little nutty about the wellbeing of animals. Truth be told, I’d rather volunteer at an animal shelter then anywhere else. I’ve always felt the kindness and deep love that animals give and have always wanted to do something to give back to them what they have given to me. Giving up meat and dairy, to me, is a small way of standing up for them and shouting to the world that I care about the wellbeing of all animals.

Now, I’m not saying that just because you eat meat and dairy you don’t care about animals, your health, or the environment. But I will say this, if you do  I firmly believe it is our absolute responsibility to know exactly where it comes from and how those animals are treated. It is, to me, irresponsible to turn a blind eye or say “I’d rather not know.” We have all the power to keep these factor farms and inhumane slaughter houses in business or put them out of business were they belong. It’s all about a choice.

 I ask you to educate yourself on where your food comes from and if you need a better reason to do so then take a good hard look into the eyes of your beloved pet and tell me that they do not feel and love and then ask yourself, how are they any different then a cow, pig, lamb or chicken? As someone who owns farm animals, believe me, they feel. I mean, look deep into the eyes of this guys:

 Pretty darn cute huh? I think so. Again, it isn’t my intention to sound all preachy and high up on a soap box. My real intention and hope is that everyone   knows exactly where their food comes from and cares enough to by elsewhere if what you find is unsettling, inhumane, and cruel.

I want to give you a little chanllenge. It wont be hard, I promise. In fact, I’ll give you so many resources it CAN’T be hard. I challenge each one of you to go meat and dairy free one a day a week. If you think you will feel deprived think again. There are so many amazing options out there for vegans now and I’m not talking about all the ‘fake’ meats. I’m talking about real, whole-amzing foods.

To make it even easier for you I will start posting more whole food incredible tasty recipes on the blog on a weekly basis.

So what do you say? Are you in?

To give you a little more help, here are a list of some of my favorite blogs and websites to go to for recipes, information, and inspiration:

World Vegan Month

Forks Over Knives

The Kind Life

Post Punk Kitchen

Manifest Vegan

Whole New Mom

 (although not vegan, she offers an incredible whole foods approach and tries to cook elimanating the top 8 allergens)

The Wellness Warrior

Kris Carr

and then of course hopefully yours truly. It’s my personal goal to share more information on living a vegan lifestyle. I also want each and every one of you to know that if ever you have question, I’d be MORE then happy to do my best to answer them.  I appreciate you all very much and am so happy you are joining me on this ride.

 I’m linking up to some of the following found here as well as TipJunkie, The Shabby Creek Cottage,  Today’s Creative Blog,  Home Stories A to  Z, The Shabby NestMy Repurposed LifeFunky Junk Interiors,Thrifty Decor ChickBetween Naps on the PorchLive, Laugh, Rowe I’m linking up to some of the following found here as well as TipJunkie, The Shabby Creek Cottage,  Today’s Creative Blog,  Home Stories A to  Z, The Shabby NestMy Repurposed LifeFunky Junk Interiors,Thrifty Decor ChickBetween Naps on the PorchLive, Laugh, Rowe

 I’m linking up to some of the following found here as well as TipJunkie, The Shabby Creek Cottage,  Today’s Creative Blog,  Home Stories A to  Z, The Shabby NestMy Repurposed LifeFunky Junk Interiors,Thrifty Decor ChickBetween Naps on the PorchLive, Laugh, Rowe